Last two Sundays, I made a slight mention of Francis Thompson’s autobiographical poem, “The Hound of Heaven.” Using the image of a hound pursuing a hare, the poet reveals how God sought for him for so many years as he put up resistance. The poem begins:
I fled Him, down the nights and down the days
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
of my own mind; and in the mist of tears
I hid from Him.
…those strong feet that followed, followed after.
But with unhurrying chase,
and unperturbed pace,
deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
they beat – and a voice beat
more instant than the feet-
‘All things betray thee, who betrayest Me.’
He describes how he continuously fled from God who never got tired of lovingly and calmly pursuing him, calling him back to Himself. Most religion talks about obeying, honoring and seeking God. But Christianity is uniquely marked with the teaching and belief that God is even the one who seeks us more than we do, even to the point of wanting to marry us, as the first reading of today rightly pointed out,”Your builder (God) wants to marry you.” God wants us more than we want him. He wants to pour out his life for us without restriction.
The authors of the Old Testament always try to use the trope of marriage – i.e., the proactive and passionate way in which married people give themselves to each other – to talk about the gracious manner in which God is present to his people. The Song of Songs, a biblical love poem, for example, gives us the intensity of God’s love through the symbolic search of a man for the woman he loves. Just like the man pursues the woman he loves. Just like man pursues the woman, so much more does God search and seek for us. Just like the Song of Songs, the prophet Isaiah said that when the Messiah comes, he will preside at a great wedding banquet, where ” juicy meats and pure, choice wine” will be served to the people. So, most of the Old Testament writers continue to use the metaphor of marriage and wedding to speak about how God will be present to his people in Jesus Christ.
This helps us understand the wedding at Cana properly. When Jesus turns water into wine at Cana in Galilee, he was assuming the role of the definitive bridegroom, as the prophet foretold. In Jewish culture, it is the responsibility of the bridegroom to provide the wine for the wedding occasion. So, in providing the 180 gallons, Jesus is presenting himself as the main bridegroom coming to marry his people. Every miracle is a sign of something deeper. This is what the first miracle of Jesus means. God wants a deeper relationship with you. Are you going to let him in? Whenever he comes into your life, you will be saved from any disgrace, just like the couple at Cana. Just give him a chance. Jesus loves you. Jesus wants you. He wants us.